Thursday, June 27, 2013

Two whole years

I can't believe it. Two years ago yesterday, Katy and I shared our first breakfast together at home. Watching the video now I'm head over heels for her. And I can laugh now remembering how happy I was, just before the bottom fell out. I was thinking, this is easy! She's adorable, I'm a natural, and so on. Little did I know I'd be a blubbering puddle of anxiety a few short days later. (if you want to rehash it, check the archives) But, like I said, I can laugh now. That's not to say there aren't days I'm loaded with anxiety. I am past the blubbering puddle at least. whew!

Katy has shot up from below the 1st percentile for her height all the way to 90th percentile! This girl is amazing. Just to show how much she's grown, here she is two years ago...
And here she is today. Same clothes. Probably the last time she will be able to wear them. They are after all 24 month sizes.
Here is the video I took on June 26, 2011. Our first morning together at home...
And this was how we started our morning, two years and a day later. Breakfast is now at daycare so we weren't eating but we were still enjoying some 'music'.
Sometimes it's difficult to think back to those first few weeks. I think we came out ok though and I'm looking forward to some more fun times ahead. We'll celebrate our two years with a trip to the beach perhaps. Or maybe just the playground. Either way we'll have fun together, my girl and me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Vacations can be fun!

It seems like years ago that we packed up and cruised the Caribbean. In fact it was four months ago. Sheesh time flies. I was looking through photos to work on our post adoption report (which is also late, argh) and realized I have yet to put down on 'paper' the cheers and challenges of our fabulous vacation.

Our family cruises together. For us it makes a great vacation for the group. There are always logistics and itineraries to work through but we always seem to end up with good times and good memories. This being our first cruise with a toddler, I stepped up with a request for the Caribbean. Figuring that if we missed a port, it wouldn't be too much of a bummer. We still got to partake of the cooking class, a family favorite. Also had some fun trying my dancing skills with the "Dancing with the Stars" competition. Didn't win but had fun anyway. It's harder than it looks! Of course we only had about 20 minutes to learn a dance then perform it. I got to have an hour at the pool with a book. It was a glorious hour though. Lots of time by the ship's pool with Katy too.

The trip started great! Katy and I left the day before, planning the plane trip around nap time and indeed she slept most of the way. I figured out how to manage Katy in the stroller while wheeling two big suitcases with another on top. It's amazing how little people will notice you when you are struggling to get from here to there. We stayed at a hotel near the port for one night and had a nice evening of playground and walking and dinner. Ok so she only ate crackers and ketchup but at least she was happy about it!
The next morning we hauled all of our belongings to the port and met up with Aunt Susan and Uncle Erik.
We introduced Katy to the Lido deck buffet where she took to it quite well! The girl does love to cut things up.
First stop was Half Moon Cay, a private island owned by the cruise line. Best. beach. ever. The sand was soft and when mixed with water was very glurch-like, which for Katy was a huge hit. Ba-lurch!!! They served a great buffet and the weather was amazing. The souvenir shopping was dismal. Maybe in my next life I'll move here and make some kind of local knickknack that people will pay oodles of cash for and I'll count my pile of money on the beach every day. sigh.
Katy loved playing in the water with Uncle Erik. He makes a good dolphin to ride!
That night we had a nice family dinner in the dining room. Katy was still happy and having a good time. On the way to dinner we stopped at the Ocean bar to listen to some music and while away the time with some shuffling.

At this point I was still optimistic that this would be the perfect vacation. hmmmm

The next stop was Cayman Islands, where Katy and I went on a bus tour with Papa. We stopped in Hell to see what that was all about and got our passports stamped. So now, Katy's first passport stamp is Hell. I don't know why I think that's funny but I do. On a side note, her passport was freshly minted about 24 hours before the plane departed due to some major drama getting it approved. I'll tackle that in the 'getting Katy's citizenship papers done' post to come.
We also stopped at the dolphin center and watched them jump and splash. (look, there's proof that I was there too!)
The last stop on the tour was the beach. It wasn't actually a stop, really, because everyone kept going on to the pier. I was determined to get Katy on every beach so we stayed behind and caught a taxi later. The taxi dropped us off at the north pier and we had to walk to the south pier. Maybe three blocks? Not so bad unless you consider it was probably 90 degrees and I was carrying a 35lb sleeping child. I wish I had a photo of the line to get on the ship. It was at least a block long. It wasn't until just before boarding that someone let us slip ahead and get on board. Good gravy I thought my biceps would burst. Turns out that was what would happen on most of our trips back to the ship. I liked that she was napping, but we needed to figure out a better system.
That night we started to get 'the face'. Sensory overload was kicking in and the change of routine and lack thereof was stealing the smile from my happy girl. To get in some down time we watched a lot of movies. Need to know any quotes from Despicable Me, Monsters Inc or Cars 2? Cause I've got em! All of them. Over and over again. Oh boy, here we go...
The next day it was Mahogany Bay in Honduras. It was 104 degrees and sunny sunny sunny. We went to the beach for a short stay and then headed back to the ship for resting and movies.
Holland America cruise line may not be known for it's catering to kids but they did have Club Hal, which we found to be quite nice. The first week we almost had the place to ourselves. The second week there were more kids but many of them were older. Still, it was a good place for Katy to feel more like at home. They did many of the same activities that she does at daycare, which helped I think. They had a pizza making night and she loved it! There's the smile I remember! 
The next stop was Costa Maya, Mexico. We were figuring out the right balance of routine vs engagement in cruising activities for a toddler. Smiles were still not always at the ready but they were around. Katy loved drumming with the musicians on shore. We walked around with Nana and Papa in the 'pop-up town' but didn't make it into the real town. Learning to limit our activities. Slowly but surely I'm learning!
This was the closest we got to a beach at this stop.
I was still trying to keep Katy engaged in the family activities by bringing her to dinner. Silly silly me. Poor thing was trying to keep up but it wasn't in her. At least the chair seemed mostly comfortable for sleeping. :-(
Finally, I'm getting smart and we nix dinner with the family. We stop messing around and make a schedule and stick to it. So much less drama that way. Morning breakfast in the cabin, off to Club Hal for Katy and on shore for me. Then I come back, pick up Katy and head to the beach. We have lunch and head back to the ship. She falls asleep on the way and stays asleep while I put her in bed and dry clothes. Then we get up and wander the ship for a while. Interestingly enough, Club Hal was open from 1 to 4 but then closed until 7. I guess they don't factor in the napping crowd. So after checking out the ship and sometimes the ship pool, we get Katy some dinner on the Lido deck. Pasta makes her happy. Simple pleasures, happy girls. Then Katy heads back to Club Hal so I can get some dinner with the family. Finally it's off to bed. Rinse and repeat.
Next stop is Grand Turk, where we stop at the beach briefly then head into the 'pop-up town' to play in the pool instead. Katy loved this pool and so did I. And since it wove all around the Margaritaville restaurant we could have lunch and still play in the pool. One stop shop. I love it. Back to the ship, nap, play, dinner etc...
Puerto Rico was the one place we didn't get our feet in the sand at all. (Costa Maya had sand and beach chairs in 'town'). Instead we walked around town with Nana, Papa, Susan and Erik, checked out the CVS for some Benedryl and played in the water fountain.
We did find the beach at St Maarten. Another beautiful stretch of sand. Wish I was there right now actually. Here, there was rum tasting. Well not for Katy of course but for the rest of us. Much rum tasting but for any more details you'd have to ask Erik. Oh wait, he won't remember them. Good times! :-)
Our last stop was Half Moon Cay again. Katy got to enjoy Club Hal in the morning and we took Papa on his first snorkeling adventure. There were so many fish it was like being in an aquarium! It was a bit choppy. Calmer than some places I've been but definitely had some swing to it. Still, I'd recommend it for the amount of fish we saw.
I couldn't resist getting Katy on shore so we took a quick dip before lunch and nap. How can you possibly pass this up?
Good times were had, drama was intense and lessons were learned. Overall we did really have more fun than not. Next time I'll know better what to do to make the vacation less dramatic for everyone who lived through Katy's drama both on board and the two weeks following during re-entry to real life (apologies to the daycare teachers!). And especially for Katy, who should get to remember vacations with mama as great and happy times. And yes, I realize she won't probably remember much if anything of this trip but I will and that counts for something.
Thanks for indulging in our vacation photo tour! Any tips for traveling with a toddler are accepted and encouraged!